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Raising a Child with Special Needs

Curt Grice, Associate Pastor of Educational Ministries
First Baptist Church, Arlington, Texas

Only those with first-hand experience truly understand the blessing and challenge of raising a child with special needs.  Parenting is hard work under the best of circumstances. When you include physical and/or mental disabilities, it can add a whole new level of difficulty and stress. It can also offer a deep level of joy and connection that others seldom know.

Whether you have recently received a troubling diagnosis, are moving into a new stage of care, or have just begun attending our church, we want to be a source of encouragement and hope as you fulfill your calling to parent a child with special needs.

We believe every child is a gift from God… made in His image and possessing great value. We also believe that those who care for children with special needs are worthy of honor and support. To become intentional about your unique situation, we encourage you to reflect on your blessing, your call and your challenge.

YOUR BLESSING:  A special connection
Those nurturing a child with special needs often encounter the heart of God in a powerful and mysterious way. While your child may not be able to participate in certain physical and/or academic pursuits, he or she can thrive in the most important arena of life – the spirit. Those unable to read the written Word of God can still embody what it means to be loved by and dependent on the Creator and Sustainer of life. And those called to serve these children are given a unique connection with the God whose image they bear. It can be delivered unexpectedly in a gentle smile, a shrieking laugh or an excited moment of sheer delight.  

YOUR CALL:  Laying down your life
You have one of the most difficult callings in the kingdom of God. One of your great challenges will be to maintain the energy and passion necessary to parent a child with special needs. The only way to survive each day is to embrace God’s call to “lay down your life.” Philippians 2:5-8 says:  

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very natureof a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (NIV)

Every Christian parent is called to mirror Jesus by taking on “the very nature of a servant” at home. This call is made especially real in the never-ending sacrifices demanded of those who care for a child with special needs. Regardless of what others think, you play a role that is immensely important to God. From His perspective, it’s like serving Christ himself (Matthew 25:40).

YOUR CHALLENGE:  Finding support and encouragement
Whether your child has mild or severe needs, you require support and encouragement in order to stay faithful and avoid burnout. Your mind, body and soul need regular nourishment. Stephen Covey talks about the importance of “sharpening the saw”… taking time for your own renewal so that your work is fueled with strength and purpose. That is an extra challenge for you… and even more essential! You and your child need periodic breaks, but making that happen can be difficult. That’s why our church offers a Special Needs Ministry on Sunday mornings. Our various age-group ministries are also ready to welcome those with less severe disabilities to participate in our regular programs. We invite you to entrust your Special Needs family member to our caring, competent leaders while you address your own spiritual, emotional and relational needs. 

And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” Matthew 25:40 (NLT)

Pastoral insights from Kurt Bruner, The Center for Strong Families 

GOING FURTHER – Church Support

Special Needs Ministry
Our church’s Special Needs Ministry seeks to serve the spiritual, physical and social needs of children, teens and adults with a variety of disabilities. Our experienced leadership team is prepared to handle most situations that may arise. Each week we enjoy music, listen to Bible stories and learn about Jesus and His love for us. The Special Needs Ministry meets on Sunday mornings at 9:30am and 11:00am in Room 134, just outside Fellowship Hall.

For more information, contact Curt Grice.